Ultimate Colts Pregame Primer: Week 16 vs. Raiders
The Colts surprised a lot of people last week when they not only played well in Minnesota against the Vikings, but beat them soundly. The Colts had just had a letdown the prior week that could have sent them into the tank mentally, but now, they find themselves continuing to fight. Up this week is a west-coast trip to the Bay Area against the Silver and Black.
- Indianapolis Colts (7-7) vs. Oakland Raiders (11-3)
- Saturday, December 24, 4:05pm EST
- Oakland, CA, Oakland-Alameda Coliseum
- TV: CBS (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson)
- To find out which games will be on TV all Sunday in your area, check here!
- Radio: WFNI 93.5 FM/1070 AM "1070 The Fan", WLHK 97.1 FM "HANK FM" (Bob Lamey, Jim Sorgi, Matt Taylor)
Here are the main points I will be looking for on Sunday:
- Play loose, have fun – At this point, the Colts need a ton of help to get into the playoffs outside of winning these next two games. You know what's not going to help? Overthinking and playing too technically. Their playoff fate is basically out of their hands at this points, so go out there and play loose and have fun. That's what they appeared to do three weeks ago against the New York Jets (41-10 win) and last week against the Minnesota Vikings (34-6 win). Two weeks ago against the Houston Texans (22-17 loss), the Colts likely threw too much emotional energy into that game. They made mistakes and defeated themselves. They don't appear capable of winning when they take a mentally methodical approach.
- The quest for 1,000 – The Colts have not had a player rush for 1,000 yards since Joseph Addai eclipsed the milestone back in 2007. Last year, Frank Gore missed it by 33 yards, and this year with two games left, he is just 109 yards away. Gore is an emotional player who takes his goals seriously, and you better belive he is still pissed about last year's failure, the first time he has fallen short of 1,000 while playing a full season as the regular starter in his career. He has rushed for 100-plus yards in two games this year, so don't be surprised if he gives it all he has to reach 1K against the Raiders.
Colts Injury Report
- QUESTIONABLE – OT Joe Reitz (back), CB Rashaan Melvin (knee)
- OUT – OLB Chris Carter (shoulder)
Raiders Injury Report
- QUESTIONABLE – WR Amari Cooper (shoulder), WR Michael Crabtree (finger), OG Kelechi Osemele (ankle), DT Stacy McGee (ankle), LB Malcolm Smith (hamstring), LB Perry Riley (hamstring), LB Shilique Calhoun (knee), S Karl Joseph (toe)
- OUT – TBD
- Colts ILB Edwin Jackson vs. Raiders QB Derek Carr – Edwin Jackson has filled in admirably for D'Qwell Jackson during the latter's suspension, and for my money, he shouldn't leave the starting lineup when 2017 rolls around. With Edwin Jackson now calling the defense, it has turned out well. The Colts have allowed just 12.7 points and 282.7 yards per game in the last three weeks, two out of the three being blowout wins, and the other being a game where the offense turned the ball over three times. For the Raiders, third-year quarterback Derek Carr is fully at the reins as the unquestioned leader of the offense. The battle of two bright, young football minds should be a fun one to watch in Jackson vs. Carr.
- Colts Offensive Tackles vs. Raiders DE Khalil Mack – Oakland's do-it-all defender Khalil Mack has been a monster since he first stepped onto an NFL field in 2014, and this year he has continued his exceptional play. He has 11.0 sacks on the year, and last week was the first time in nine weeks that he didn't have at least 1.0 sack in a game. The Colts' offensive line has performed better than usual in recent weeks, with Andrew Luck only being sacked three times in the last three games, but they haven't faced an elite pass rusher like Mack in that time. Anthony Castonzo is the Colts' unquestioned starter at left tackle, but right tackle is still up in the air. Joe Reitz, Joe Haeg and Le'Raven Clark have started in recent weeks, and Clark played surprisingly well in his first career action last week, so it's not currently known who will be starting there this week.
- On Tuesday, the NFL announced its 2017 Pro Bowl rosters, and Colts wide receiver TY Hilton and punter/kickoff specialist Pat McAfee both made the cut. This is Hilton's third Pro Bowl (2014, 2015) and McAfee's second (2014).
- This week, the Colts elevated defensive end Kristjan Sokoli to the 53-man roster from the practice squad, signed outside linebacker Lavar Edwards and defensive lineman Kelcy Quarles to the practice squad and placed defensive lineman Art Jones on season-ending Injured Reserve.
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